Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Last week, I posted about making sure your end-of year donors get thanked in a personal way – this being one of the most important, and most pleasant, of fundraising tasks. Do you have a New Year’s resolution? If you’re like most, getting your Board members more involved in fundraising would be high on the list. Making thank you calls to donors is a great way to start!

There are other year-end tasks you should think about as well. I have some ideas that I will share with you in the next few weeks. Here’s the first:

Print out a list of everyone who gave your organization money in the few years prior to 2009. Organize the list alphabetically and include their cumulative gift total for each year. Now print out the list from 2009, organize it the same way, and compare the two. Reorganize the comparative list into those who increased their giving, those whose giving dropped off, and those who dropped out. In each case, for each donor, do you know why? In each case, look back through their giving history. Look at the patterns of giving – timing, specific interests, and who signed the solicitation. What conclusions can you draw? How can what you learn change your plan for 2010?

For those whose giving increased in 2009, make sure you keep their names in front of you during the year. Perhaps you could prioritize inviting them personally to a field trip or to the Annual Meeting. A personal note on their newsletter goes a long way toward reinforcing their decision. Also look at the percentage jump. Moving from $25 to $35 might not warrant further action while jumping from $250 to $1,000 might warrant alerting the Board.

For those whose giving dropped off in 2009, was this another year in a sliding pattern, or an anomaly? Is the decline related to the market, or is the donor unhappy? Again, the size of the decline is important. A client called the other day because her $17,500 donor sent a check this year for $10,000. I suggested that she thank the donor profusely NOW for what they did give, and make an appointment in late January or early February to learn the reasons behind the decline.

For donors who drop out altogether, did they just forget? Did their intentions get lost in the avalanche of seasonal mail? Would a phone call help?

“Hello. This is _______. I’m the Executive Director of the _______Land Conservancy. Your support over the years has been an important reason so much conservation has been accomplished – so much land has been protected for future generations. So important in fact, that I got worried when I didn’t see your renewal last year.”

It may be that you do not have time to spend this level of attention on all of your donors. Two quick points here: First, taking care of the donors you have is ALWAYS more productive than chasing their replacements. Second, your donor relations work is a conservation strategy. Without donors, without their loyalty, without community support of conservation effort, the land is protected only on paper.

As always, your comments, responses, and questions are welcomed here and by email at fundraisinghelp@sbcglobal.net



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